It's hard to play Dungeon Gems without comparing it to Puzzle & Dragons.
But while the comparison is fair, Dungeon Gems actually does the whole dungeon crawling match-stuff puzzler thing better.
In fact, it does it much better than most games in the genre.Match free
The main goal of Dungeon Gems is to trek through various dungeons. You need to defeat all the monsters inside and collect the fat loot at the end.
Your soft and squishy mortal form wouldn't last two seconds down there, however, so you'll need to enlist the help of other characters along the way.
They'll only attack when you clear the gems that correspond with their colour. Clearing larger chains of gems does more damage.
There are a couple of interesting ideas here that set the game apart. You can tap and activate single gems without linking them together into chains, and use the Action Points you earn by defeating enemies to link up colours that don't match.
These two elements add an entirely new dimension to what could've been a by-the-numbers strategy battler.
The game also looks great in motion. The enemies are nicely animated, the special abilities you can trigger are appropriately flashy, and the *THUD* that accompanies big hits is unbelievably satisfying.Prizes, prizes, prizizes!
Normally this is where I'd bemoan Dungeon Gems's free-to-play model, but it actually works pretty darn well. There is an energy system, but as you level up so does the amount of energy you can have at any one time.
In other words the better you are the less time you're going to spend sitting around.
And while the expected "lose everything you've earned if you fail a dungeon" mechanic rears its unsightly head, it's actually not as common a problem as you'd think.
Some clever use of Action Points and careful planning can definitely give you an edge.
I was fully prepared to write-off Dungeon Gems as yet another match-3 dungeon puzzler, and in a way it kind of is. But it does the formula proud with its high production values and forgiving free-to-play structure.
Give it a try, even if you've been burned before.